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How to Buy a Safe and Comfortable Helmet

Wearing a bicycle helmet cuts the chance of seriously hurting your head if you’re in a bike accident. But that same helmet might not provide good protection if you wear it while rock climbing or skating. Here’s how to pick a safe and comfortable helmet.

THE PRO-TEC CLASSIC ($55) and CLASSIC JUNIOR ($65, two sizes, helmets, certified for skateboarding and cycling, maximize protection for rippers with a high-density shell, inner foam liner and 11 vents. The Junior’s magnetic buckle won’t pinch your neck, and the dual-direction ratcheting adjustment system gives you a customized fit without having to change helmet liners.


Get a helmet designed specifically for your sport. Don’t be distracted by the helmet’s style. What’s more important is if the helmet meets the proper protection standards. Just check for the sticker inside the helmet with the certification on it before buying.

THE PRO-TEC CLASSIC CERTIFIED SNOW STEALTH ($70, helmet is certified for skating, cycling and snow activities. It adds removable ear pads, a heat-sealed liner and a goggles clip, enabling three-sport use in all seasons.


Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) helmets come in different versions for different sports. The most common design uses a liner inside the helmet that offers more protection in a crash, potentially reducing brain trauma.

With a bicycling helmet, consider what and how you ride. Helmets for the road and cross-country mountain biking prioritize low weight and ventilation; trail and enduro models protect the back of your head; and downhill helmets add a chin bar.

Integrating high-impact-absorbing EPS foam with dual-density foam plus fabric liners, the TRIPLE EIGHT CERTIFIED SWEATSAVER ($70, helmet carries certification for both cycling and skateboarding, saving multi-sporters money. Triple Eight donates a portion of sales to The Skatepark Project for the creation of public skate parks.

When buying any helmet, take a look at the helmet’s design. The safest helmets are those that are rounded without any snag points sticking out that could hurt you during a fall.

Vents are good for keeping your head cool, but more vents equal less foam and, possibly, less protection. So pick a helmet with no more vents than you think you’ll need.

Finally, if you’ll be cycling or skating around traffic, choose a brightly colored helmet so you’ll be easier for drivers to see.

The ventilated LAZER GEKKO MIPS ($65, helmet uses an automatic fit system that enables proper fitting to your head quickly and safely without having to move a dial — and has the protection of MIPS.


You should have a snug fit, but not so tight that it’s too uncomfortable.

Some helmets come with removable foam inserts to customize a snug fit. With the helmet level on your head, use your fingers to measure the space between your eyebrows and the helmet.

You shouldn’t have any more than two fingers of space above your eyebrows. You don’t want it flopping down over your eyes either.


Always buckle your helmet. It only takes a second to strap it on. And if you fall and it’s not strapped, the helmet isn’t going to stay on and won’t do any good. Plus, you’re not looking any cooler wearing it without the strap.

The FOX RACING YOUTH MAINFRAME HELMET ($80, combines extended back-of-the-head coverage; cool ventilation; a lightweight fit system; and a removable, moisture-wicking liner with MIPS protection. It’s also available in adult sizes.


These days, some high-end helmets can cost up to several hundred dollars, but don’t worry: you can get a safe cool-looking one for much less.

For trail and bike park riders who go big and fast, the BELL SUPER 3R MIPS ($235, features a removable chin bar, easily changing over between a half-lid for trail mountain biking and a full-face helmet. In full-face mode, big, soft pads cushion your face, while the half-lid setup has a close, ventilated fit.


Whether you go to a bike or skate shop or a big superstore, it’s important that you try on a bunch of different helmets to find the one that fits your head best. Salespeople in small specialty shops can help you find the optimum fit; in big stores you’re usually on your own.

Either way, don’t just pick one that looks cool. If you’re going to wear a helmet, you might as well have the safest one.

For any climbing, the BLACK DIAMOND VISION MIPS ($140, delivers all-day comfort, thanks to a design that’s highly adjustable. The EPS foam puck on the top of the head protects from falling rocks while the EPP foam shell surrounding it provides side impact protection — it’s the best of both worlds. The outer shell is ABS, a more durable type of plastic shell than thin, easy-to-dent polycarbonate.


Visit the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute’s Web site at to find out everything there is to know about helmet safety.

There are good reasons the NRS HAVOC LIVERY HELMET ($53, ranks among the most popular with whitewater kayakers and rafters. For starters, it’s made from tough ABS plastic, known to withstand a lot of hard use. The glued-in, closed-cell EVA foam liner and plush-fit pads on the front and back deliver comfort. An adjustable system makes it one of the few one-size-fits-all whitewater buckets, making it a useful spare helmet that anyone you invite can wear. The price helps a lot, too.

25 Comments on How to Buy a Safe and Comfortable Helmet

  1. FoxyThePirate/Patty // May 12, 2015 at 9:17 pm // Reply

    I have a BELL dirtbike Helmet.

  2. Helmets save peoples live’s every day, they have saved mine 4 times. get a good one, don’t waste your skull on a cheap one!

  3. IdahoDHBiker // November 4, 2014 at 3:37 pm // Reply

    I swear by my helmet now, it has saved my life over two times and I have shattered it once. I have gnarly scars on my arm from a Downhill Mtn Bike crash, but my helmet saved my face/head from much much worse damage. ALWAYS WEAR A HELMET!

  4. Try this rule; I live by it and suggest it to many a scout.
    Buy a good helmet, and with what ever is left, buy your bike.
    That way you’re always set to go.

  5. superish biker // September 26, 2011 at 6:13 pm // Reply

    Sadly, a lot of bike helmets are to expensive for parents that are cheap.

  6. lizardman // May 19, 2011 at 5:11 am // Reply

    I have been hit and run by a buzzed driver, run off the road, crashed into a concrete trash can at about 12 mph and struck a car that illegally cut in front of me at 40 mph on my motorcycle. I walked away from those accidents because of my helmets. I am writing this because of my helmets. Always get a helmet that is designed for the activity. Contrary to “get up and go” all helmets are not the same. Bell and Gyro are good helmets for cycling and they also have a crash replacement warranty. The bike shop or the company can give details. “Live to Ride. Ride to Live”.

    • Knife Xpert 157 (aka Chad 101) // May 2, 2012 at 3:21 pm // Reply

      Thats why you shouldnt rid motorcycles! My motto is “Jesus Died For You. Now You Live For Him”

  7. When I got mountaineering, I just use my ski helmet. It’s pretty much the same thing, plus I can keep my ears warm and listen to my mp3 while climbing.


  9. Giro helmets are one of the best helmets, you can wear one without looking stupid 🙂

  10. i use a bell 1 and it is fine even thougt it is olny about $10

  11. get up and go // April 4, 2010 at 5:07 pm // Reply

    Well, I say unless your intending to fly of your bike, headlong over a cliff, save your money.
    Pretty much all helmets serve for the same cause, and do it the same way.
    Some of them are bigger, some of them are more aerodynamic, some of them are plastic, some of them styrofoam, etc. etc. etc. But like I say, their all pretty much the same thing.

  12. If you go caving like I do, a bike helmet works well. Just duct-tape a headlamp to it, and tah-dah!!!

    But a helmet made for stuff like that is recommended, if you can find a store that has that stuff.

  13. as a dirtbiker, pocket rocket rider,and seadoo driver (yes helmets are good on seadoos.) i prefer a bell motorcycle helmet 🙂 bell is extremely reliable brand of helmets. i like the helmets with the mesh in the mouthpiece area to keep the the bugs out XD.p.s dont buy a brand youve never heard of do a little reasearch and find out the features dont buy helmets with foreigen substances because u might be allegic to the material bye pplz 🙂

  14. Helmet Biker357 // June 27, 2009 at 11:52 am // Reply

    Some areas of the country don’t require bikers to wear helmets; however, if you ever rode a bike on a macadem bike path and accidently fell off of your bike, you would have always wished to have the bicycle safety equipment for bike riding. Asphalt and Cement bicycle paths are gentle when a bicyclist falls on the bike path. Macadem bicycle paths really scrape a person quite badly which may require in-depth first aid by another bicyclist who comes upon a downed bicyclist. This is a great article regarding bicyclist safety helmets.

  15. I REALLY need a helmet and this helps on what kind to get.

  16. Nice guide. I hate it when people don’t wear helmets. I’ve seen people fall off their bike and end up going to the hospital because they wanted to look cool and not wear a helmet.

  17. help find a helment for bmx riding. i went with the pro-tec b2 40 bucks.

  18. just want to say sixsixone mullent helment is very nice for about $30 bucks.

  19. cool ive been looking for one

  20. interesting!

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